Why Veterans Make Great Industrial Employees – and How to Recruit Them to Join Your Team
11 November 2019
Serving in the military is an incredible challenge. But for many veterans, the biggest hurdle often comes during their return to civilian life. 44% of veterans who served in the decade since September 11th have a difficult time readjusting after completing their service, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.
A great way to give back to the veterans who protect our freedom and our country is to make this difficult transition a little bit easier.
Veterans possess a wealth of skills and knowledge that makes them great candidates for jobs in manufacturing and industrial businesses. Thomas Insights spoke to leading industry professionals about the traits that make veterans uniquely qualified for these rewarding positions, and how your industrial business can find and recruit talented veteran candidates for your open job opportunities.
What Traits Make Veterans Great Candidates for Industrial Jobs?
Sean Brownlee, CEO of Ravenox, explains that manufacturing requires a skill set that most veterans learn during their service, including leadership skills and analytical thinking.
“The exposure that military members have working alongside diverse groups of people, in sometimes austere conditions that they cannot leave, shapes them into great leaders,” Brownlee says. “Veterans have learned how to focus and lead others to work together toward a common goal with efficiency and timeliness. Their leadership, ability to build collaborative relationships, initiative, and strategic perspective sets them apart from others.”
Bryan Zawikowsi is the vice president and general manager of the Military Transition Division of Lucas Group, which focuses on connecting military talent with positions best suited to help veterans readjust to civilian life, usually in manufacturing environments. He explains that veterans are well-aligned with an industrial environment because of focuses that are already familiar to them: safety, quality, and a drive to succeed.
“The priorities in an industrial environment – such as safety, quality, productivity – are quite familiar to military veterans, especially those who served in an operational role like combat arms or combat service support. Accidents and mistakes can cost people their lives, just like in an industrial environment,” Zawikowski explains.”Military veterans are required to demonstrate a sense of urgency with a focus on mission accomplishment and a bias for action, and this serves them well in an industrial environment.”
What You Need to Know About Hiring Veterans
Anthony Fazzini, the mechanical production manager at Aerotech, has found these skills to be a huge advantage on his team; the company currently employs 28 veterans. Aerotech celebrates Veterans Day every year with an annual lunch for all veteran employees to thank them for their service.
“[Veterans’] attention to detail is unmatched, stemming from their prior experiences, which, in some cases, can be life [or] death,” explains Fazzini. “Detail is critical in manufacturing, as mistakes can be costly and extend lead times, making customers unhappy.”
Fazzini also notes that Aerotech’s veteran employees are excellent at following directions and troubleshooting, and their “great work ethic” is a major asset to the company. He notes that the most crucial element to keep in mind when considering a veteran for a manufacturing job is that their skill set goes far beyond what can be described on paper in a simple job application.
“Veterans offer skills and abilities that may not be reflected in their resume,” Fazzini says. “Some are even rejected due to gaps in employment or lack of traditional schooling. While they may not have the years of industry experience that some are looking for, they offer unmatched self-discipline and a desire to learn. The breadth of technical knowledge learned in the military prepares them to adapt and learn new skills quickly, and veterans are great at applying concepts from their past into their present work.”
How to Recruit Veterans into Open Opportunities at Your Company
Zawikowski also notes it’s important for hiring and recruiting veterans to understand that trust is critical.
“In the military, your word is your bond and your teammates must be able to trust you,” Zawikowski says. “They bring this with them to the corporate world, which is a good thing for your corporate culture and their coworkers. That said, they are watching to see if you can be trusted. If you say you’re going to return a call by Monday at 5 p.m. and you don’t call until Wednesday, you have just lost some credibility.”
To effectively establish that trust and credibility with veteran candidates, Zawikowski recommends involving veterans currently at your company in the hiring process.
“[Involving veterans] will help others understand military experience and how it translates,” he explains. “This will also make the veteran more comfortable in the interview process and set them up for success.”
Fazzini encourages employers to bring veterans in for an interview and not be discouraged by the contents of their resumes.
“Veterans often shine during the interview process, when they can share their experiences and explain the positive impact they can have within your organization,” Fazzini recommends. “I’ve also found that veterans are often humble, and I encourage questions that dig deep and bring out all of the skills and knowledge they have learned while serving our country.”
Ultimately, Zawikowski adds, “Smart employers realize that there are some skills that can be taught and learned while there are other intangible skills that must be developed via experience over time. The military does a very good job of putting people in positions of great responsibility early in their careers. This is why many military veterans have leadership skills and a work ethic that is usually found in more experienced candidates.”